The socially accepted norm in Nigeria is that a man wears the trousers and provides for his family. He is expected to fend for his family. He is also expected to find a good job that will make him leave the house every morning and return later in the day to meet food at the table, with the house neat. He has no business taking care of the children because it is believed that the woman’s place is in the kitchen, and to take care of the children. He cannot be the primary caregiver, that is why he has a wife.
But what happens when there is a domestic shift? He completely flips this expectation, and instead of being the one earning, wearing suit every morning to go to work, the suit-wearing breadwinner husband or father becomes the stay at home dad, the one doing the cooking and diaper-changing; the stay-at-home dad!
Nigerians are raised with the notion of mothers staying at home with their children. As such, they are largely supportive of the idea. They cannot even bear the thought of a stay-at-home father. They thrive on so many misconceptions about men who choose to stay at home and play the role of “wife”. They do not understand that the social-economy of parenting is changing; hard-working women in demanding careers have less time for parenthood, and it seems only natural that we should be seeing more stay-at-home dads.
Here are some of the misconceptions they have about stay-at-home dads:
He is out of job
One will be wondering what a strong grown man will be doing at home instead of working to feed his family. Certainly, he must have quit a job situation that is not promising, or he was fired and is now making the most of his time between jobs to help his wife with the children. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some men actually prefer to take care of the home and kids. Some even do a better job at it. They make the conscious choice to take on this ‘wife’ role, on agreement with their partners. This will even create a bond between the dad and his child, because children are known to be closer with their mother.
He is not ambitious
The assumption is that a man who would easily give up the corporate world to stay at home to raise children is not ambitious in any way. But what exactly is the definition of ambition? The fact that he is staying at home all day with the children does not mean he is whiling away time doing nothing. He might be doing some contract job that is earning him millions while he stays at home with his children. Playing the role of a full-time dad could be a temporary move – a necessary step in a much larger scheme.
He is lazy
A stay at home dad will be considered as someone who is lazy and prefers to stay at home with his children. On a second thought, people are quick to judge without finding out why a man will take such a bold decision about staying at home. It might be due to the fact that he has earned a lot and wants to spend more quality time with his children, or even maybe due to health problems.
He is not a good role model
There is the argument that a stay-at-home dad will not be good role model for his child, as he will confuse the child on what a ‘proper’ man should be like. The child, if male, would probably grow up having gender identity issues, because he has a father who plays the role of a woman. This is one of the most unfair misconception. If anything, being a stay-at-home dad shows the child that a father is one who is always there for his child, and one who caters to his child – a good example for any child.
Their wives wear the pants in the family
The misconception is that the wife is the breadwinner, therefore she has also taken on the power that comes with being the head of the family. Unfortunately, being a stay-at-home dad does not, in any way, imply the man has become a weakling, or he has surrendered his authority as husband to his wife. He still leads the family, champions the vision, makes the necessary decisions and protects his wife when need be.
Are you a stay-at-home dad? What are some of the struggles you have had to deal with? Ignore what people say about you and be the good father that your child knows you to be.
By Pupwaya Timothy Dibal